The Two Sides of a Country that was Completely Paralyzed for a Day

By Carlos Aznárez on April 6, 2017

Lately, a struggle has emerged between two distinct models in Argentina and other Latin American countries as well. The first one is promoted mainly by those who plunder the country in compliance with external agents linked to multinational companies in the US and EU. The other arises from the real social and political justification of those in need; workers, students, and small and medium-sized companies.

This division explains the debates that dominated Argentina last Thursday, as the country was completely paralyzed by a workers’ strike. Streets were unusually calm for the entire working day. No trains, buses, nor taxis on the streets–not even planes were in operation that day. Meanwhile, Mauricio Macri was inaugurating what’s known as the Mini-Davos Forum (the Latin American version of the World Economic Forum), which was a clear sign of the fact that he only rules for the richest. In fact, he expressed his joy over the fact that in the elitist neighborhood/bubble of Puerto Madero, “everyone was working”.

Like former President Carlos Saúl Menem, who in the 90s thought Argentina was a first world country, Mauricio Macri talks about “the fourth industrial revolution for an inclusive Latin America”, following a script that was written in Washington imposed on its subordinates. Does he really believe this or is he just trying to please his bosses and colleagues?

Outside the doors of this playground for the rich there were protests with signs and chants proving that things were not as smooth as the President is pretending they are. Outside, in distinct opposition, was the strike of hundreds of thousands of workers.

Those who really create value, from dusk till dawn, stopped everything on Thursday. Their determination was being fueled by an accumulated rage from the massive layoffs, tax increases, lack of salary renegotiations, and the permanent abuse from businesspeople, bureaucratic unions and government officials. Everyone stopped so that the world can take note that Macri lies, as do the media outlets Clarín, La Nación and Todo Noticias, who are his personal allies.

They were striking because of the suffering that has been caused to their families who can’t make monthly ends meet, who eat only once a day, for those who are being besieged and invaded by police who just last week who stormed a children’s soup kitchen and evicted, tortured and pepper-sprayed boys and girls.

That is the reality we want to change, but their handicap is that they have patience and peaceful ways. Macri does not want to acknowledge them when they demand an end to the repression. On the contrary, emboldened by the recommendations of his Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and Security Secretary Eugenio Burzaco, he intends to stop social protests through greater repression, heavy-handed policies and the deployment of thousands of security officials who are trained to persecute the weakest.

On the day of the strike, there was a massive deployment of police agents that seemed to be armed for war. Against whom? Against those who protest without weapons.

Thousands of policemen surrounded the people who were blocking the Pan-American Highway and the Pueyrredon Bridge, attacking the protesters. They did it under the orders of Bullrich and Burzaco, without any sort of reasoning to justify it. It was simply a method of disciplining the people to show them whose boss. But those who fight and resist will not give up for fear of receiving a punch or breathing the toxic air of tear gas. Now they will prepare themselves for the next time, rejecting any proposal that dictates to them to accept the injustices that are being dealt from above. They are thinking “We are tired of all the provocations.”

Finally, a few words for the leaders of the three branches of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), who, at a press conference, made it clear that they did not endorse the roadblocks at all, and that the sole responsibility for the consequences of this decision was on the social movements and left-wing organizations. Disrespecting the thousands of humble people that carried out these impressive actions instead of staying at home—like the people of the Central of Workers of the Popular Economy. It was the masses who, among other districts, marched through La Boca, blocked the Avellaneda Bridge and protested in La Matanza, La Plata and Marcos Paz. It was the workers of the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Left, the Labour Party, the Dario Santillán Popular Front, and many others who stood in defense of their rights. They were once again betrayed by the “heavyweights” of some sections of the labor movement. It is clear that there is little to expect from this coalition of syndicalism. However this doesn’t mean that there’s no one inside the CGT who’s willing to fight Macri’s neoliberalism.

They were in contrast with the stance of the CTA (Argentine Central of Workers), who were totally committed to the strike and talked of the necessity of building a plan to further the struggle.

We say it again, “Macri: Stop It”, because there is a collision course between the poorest who are angry and the richest who are willing to betray and destabilize. This Thursday showed that there was real evidence that this next season could get really hot.

Source: The Dawn